A Craic-ing time... In Patagonia.....
Trip Start Nov 05, 2009
32Trip End Apr 26, 2010
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I had originally planned on trekking by myself but as often seems to happen I ended up chatting to some folks on the bus over to Chile and we all ending up deciding to walk together. There was a core group of 4...me and 3 very lovely Irish guys (Em, Richie and Paul)...who were planning on trekking the full route over 5 days and then a few other guys that were coming along for parts of the journey or doing it in a shorter amount of time
The weather was not looking good....visions of my previous horrific experience in my 'waterproof tent' with my super absorbant camping mattress/ sponge came to mind but as I was wearing my deeply rose coloured spectacles all was well and I was excited about the adventure ahead.
We had decided to take a route called the W which follows an H shaped route through 3 valleys...hehehe...it's W shaped of course...you can go in either direction but the views tend to be better if you start in the West. Being a W shape means that you do end up having to walk back the same way that you went up which can be slightly painful when you know exactly what lies ahead for the next day. I find it is best not to know what agonies await you to be honest but at least you get to see the view in both directions. Our ultimate destination was Torres Del Paine for sunrise on our last day....with all fingers crossed that the weather would be good and we would get to see this amazing spectacle.
We took a bus from Puerto Natales into the Torres Del Paine National Park. Stunning scenery, the sun suprisingly was shining but the wind was out of this world
The first section to the Refugio Grey campsite took us about 3 hours, which was long enough as it was all up hill, the wind was a nightmare and my pack felt very heavy with my share of the food, equipment etc for 5 days. I was starving by the time we arrived but thankfully we had a yummy lunch planned....dry tinned tuna on even drier stale bread....mmmmm my favourite! The location was just amazing as it looked out over a glacial lake dotted with immense blue icebergs
Supposedly it was a very wild night with strong winds and big waves but due to my 'will even block out fire alarm' ear plugs, I was blissfully unaware and had a great nights sleep.
Day 2 - St Patricks Day
Porridge with a spoonful of diabetes (Dulche de leche - toffee stuff from banoffe pie) for breakfast and then we packed up and headed back down the valley and along to the bottom of the next valley to a camping spot called Campamento Italiano. This campsite had a climate all of its own...absolutely bloody freezing and was over run with mice. The guy next door had a serious of little holes in his tent where the mice had chomped through to get to the food he had stored in his tent. We hung ours from a tree...seems a little like overkill in my opinion...don't you normally do that for big hairy bears rather than cute furry little mices? but we didn't fancy having the little critters eating our tents and snuggling into our sleeping bags during the night
Today we climbed up the Valle de Frances (the midddle of the W), leaving our bags and kit at the campsite. Felt like we were walking on air. The weather was amazing and it was a gorgeous walk up alongside the very full river, watching avalanches fall from the mountains towering above. Poor Emma has hurt her ankle but she is made of tough stuff and is battling on regardless. The view from the head of the valley was outstanding but my tummy was telling me it was lunchtime so I decided to run back down the valley, slipped on a rock, fell flat on my face, tore my trousers and bent my thumb backwards....all of course happened as I went past a large group of walkers.....grrrr and owwww. After a delicious mug of steaming hot MSG (chicken noodle soup), packing up and a baby wipe shower we headed off to our next camping spot at Los Ruenos Refugio. The stormy lake we had crossed on our first day was now like a millpond and it was a lovely walk along its banks in the glow of the afternoon sun. The campsite was slightly disappointing...very dark and dank but we moved down to the lakeside to cook dinner (no suprises there...a delicious mix of chorizo, pasta and sauce) and to watch the sunset. It was my turn to wash the dinner pots and I was very lucky as the campsite sink turned out to have lovely hot water
By this point it was becoming painfully evident that there are 2 types of people that walk the W trek.....the 'lucky buggers' that can afford to stay in the Refugios (warm, cosy hostels with showers and hot food) and then people like us that for some bizarre reason choose to bathe with moist wipes, sleep on 2 mm of foam, freeze to near death each night, eat some sort of sausage shaped meat with pasta and sauce every night, spending our evenings with our noses pressed against the warm glass of the refugios watching the 'lucky buggers' scoffing their non-sausage based food down their fat necks, drinking their wine out of non-plastic vessels in front of a roaring fire, cheeks still rosy from their scaldingly hot showers.....laughing loudly in their smug (I'm warm and toasty) kind of way.....but I wouldn't change it for the world....going feral & smelly is so much more fun!
Long hard day ahead and its my turn to carry the tent
Oh no.... the sky is covered by an advancing blanket of cloud. We have had 4 amazing days of clear skies...typical
After 5 days without a shower it was a great feeling to get back to the hostel and get clean before heading out for the huge amounts of meat that we had been dreaming about for the past few days......
An amazing trek with some brilliant guys and some fantastic craic.....